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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  May 13, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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careful, though -- that kind of power can go to your head. that explains a lot. yo, buddy! i got this. gimme one, gimme one, gimme one! the power of the "name your price" tool. only from progressive. . >> hello, everyone, i'm ashleigh banfield. right now, president obama is meeting with the british prime minister david cameron at the white house. this is video that just came in. it was shot just before they began their meeting. they are expected to speak live in the east room, that is happening about 15 minute from now t. topics are quite varied, they include the civil war in syria to the economy.
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we hear they will take questions from reporters as well. there is so much to ask of these very important world leaders and our special coverage is going to get under way live in just 10 minutes. as we wait for the start of that event, we got other top stories we are following closely at this hour. because republicans on capitol hill are really stepping up their attacks against the obama administration all over that irs extra scrutiny of conservative groups. a report by the inspector general indicates that agents with the irs began targeting conservative groups who were applying for tax exempt status, going back as early as march of 2010. cnn obtained a copy of the report which is due to be released this week. house republicans are urging president barack obama to condemn the irs for targeting groups t. groups apparently either had the words tea party in their name patriot on their
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applications. >> this is truly outrageous. it contributes to the profound distrust that the american people have in government. it is absolutely chilling that the irs was singling out conservative groups for extra review. >> president obama mentioned this controversy right before the start of his meeting with the visiting british prime minister. as we mentioned, david cameron sitting down with him. here's what he had to say just a few moments ago. >> as mepgsd, the president and prime minister cameron are expected to speak live with reporters and take questions. all of it to get under way in a few moments. our teams are scrambling.
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that will be live. we will bring it to you as soon as they begin actually speaking. in the meantime, again, other major news, detroit, a city that is dysfunctional and wasteful, those are kwoerkts after years of mismanagement and corruption, a very bleak assessment coming from the city's emergency managener a report on his his first 45 days in office. that report is due out today. his name is kevin orr. his report says that city will finish its current budget year with a $162 million cash flow shortfall. details on how orr plans to steer that major city out of itsful crisis, expected to come in months to come. also mother's day celebration suddenly becoming a mass crime scene in new orleans. gunfire erupting. take a look at the video. remarkable.
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this all during a mother's day parade. chaos. police say shots rang out from different guns. 19 different people were wounded. three different suspects were seen running from that scene of the crime. the fbi says this was quote strictly an act of street violence, end quote, and there was no case of terrorism involved. but again, mother's day parade. we also have a very sad and tragic story. a mother's day story coming out of california. crystal walters is pleading for privacy the day after the arrest of her 12-year-old stepson in the death of her 8-year-old stepdaughter, leila fowler. that brother is now charged in the homicide of leila. leila was stabbed to death in the family home. the young boy initially told police he had seen an intruder leaving the house. he gave a zrichlgs now he, himself, 12-years-old is under
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arrest. i want to take you to cleveland where the nightmare on seymour avenue ended one week ago today, except for these two men, ped tro and onil castro. they are the brothers of the man accused of holding three young women captive for over a decade for 9-11 years, in an exclusive interview with cnn, onil and pedro say their nightmare began the day amanda berry, gina dejesus and michelle knight were actually freed and rescued. all three castro brothers were arrested to get. onil and pedro were publicly cleared, they say they're being threatened. they're being harassed. all for crimes they say they knew nothing about, allegedly committed by a brother they knew nothing about at all and never want to know anything about again. it's a remarkable interview. just listen to onil castro's answer from my colleague, martin
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savidge. >> what is your brother to you now? >> a monster, hateful. i hope he rots in that jail. i don't even want them to take his life leak get i want him to suffer in that jail for the the last extent. i don't care if they even feed him for what he has done to my life and my family's. >> to the both of you now, he no longer exists. >> yes. >> the monster is a goner. >> martin savidge had a chance to speak extensively with those two brothers. both of them surprising him by saying they want nothing to do with him ever again. they were not able to speak with him even while they were being held in those holding cells and the only thing they saw their brother do was to walk past them to use a bathroom and flash nem the peace seen. just really remarkable information. but then also the older brother, pedro, was talking about the
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dejesus family, because they actually knew the dejesus family. marty joins me live now from cleveland. martin, i have been watching with such interest the interview that you were able secure with these two men and it is so vast. i'd like you to touch on that last aspect if you could, the fact that the castro family was quite close to gina dejesus' family. >> reporter: right. and that's something that i had heard before, we had discussed before, but once we got into this interview an there was so much we wanted to talk about. if i had sort of lost track about get it was pedro that gens to allude to it. suddenly, my mind snapped into recognition, that's right, these families knew one another, pedro knew felix. that's gina's father. oh my gosh, that even makes this worse. listen.
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>> felix, i knew him for a long time. and when i found out that, that ariel had gina, i just, i just broke down. you because it's shocking. ariel, we know this guy for a long time. felix -- >> this is gina's father. >> felix dejesus. and you got his daughter? and you go, you go around like it's nothing. you even went to the pedros. you had posters. you gave his mama a hug and you got his daughter captive? >> reporter: of course, they were horrified for all the girls, but gina was the one that they personally had the connection to the family and you heard pedro, he was just, he could not believe it and could not believe it was his brother. >> and i know, marty, we're going to hear a lot more of your interview, just quickly, if you
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could, it's critical here that these men are tsuyoshied, some people feel some kind of suspicion, but did the police get clearance from the victim, themselves? or do we know that? that these men had nothing to do with it from the mouths of the victims? >> reporter: right. you know, i cannot say for certain because authorities have been very tight lipped on exactly what the girls have said to them. we seen in the initial police report. but it has been reported that, yes, the girls said these men did not have anything to do with it. that they were specifically asked about the brothers and you would have to almost assume that because authorities did clear them completely and made that widely known at that arraignment that was held for their brother ariel, that they had communicated with these women, that the women had cleared those brothers. so it seems, at least for now, the investigation in no way covers that. >> and so often, marty, we don't get that opportunity, especially when there is murder victims.
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you don't get to hear that kind of thing. that would be critical. marty savidge reporting live, excellent. an excellent interview. we will play more of that interview. just minutes from now, the president and the prime minister will be addressing the media. ve have been told they are addressing global and regional concerns. and when we come back, our jake tapper will lead our coverage live from washington. .
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>> welcome back to cnn "newsroom." ashley ban feel will be back later this hour. we are expecting president obama and prime minister cameron to talk about the increasing violence in syria and the global economy. there will be a g-8 meeting in northern ireland. reporters are anxious to ask president obama about two big controversys here at home, the response and the white house actions involving the attacks at
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u.s. interests and the diplomatic posts and bench ghazi, libya and reports the irs targeted they party and other conservative groups. chief analyst gloria barger is here andca y jessil isn't, of course, at the white house. gloria, i want to start with you, democrats might dismiss this irs controversy and benghazi controversy as politics as usual. whatever you think of the controversys, they could play a significant role in preventing anything from happening in the coming term. >> right. right now, the white house credibility is really uns under assault and there are some democrats also, jake, asking questions about benghazi and about the irs targeting and i think that if you look at the presidents agenda, which includes huge issues, he's already been disappointed on gun control. there is talk about going back at that. immigration reform, this was
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something that was going o does all of this play into th and does the president become so weakened in republican's minds that they don't feel a sense of urgency at all to cooperate with him? >> one of the things we were ekts e expecting before the commercial is for president obama to put a lot of distance between himself and this irs controversy. >> right. his spokesman, jay carney, tried to do that on friday. i think hearing the outrage of the president obama of the occupation would be important. this is an issue that goes to the heart of whether or not you trust your government or not. this is a president who has asked the government to do an awful lot of things, including healthcare reform, policing the borders. so he has to kind of right that and say, this is outrageous. we will get to the bottom of it. >> in fact, one of the few republican senators who has
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shown a willingness, republican susan collins of maine with candy krawley has some comments. let's take quick listen. >> this is truly outrageous and it contributes to the profound distrust that the american people have in government. it is slooutd absolutely chilling that the irs was singling out conservative groups for extra review and i think that it's very disappointing that the president hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out. >> and, of course, we were told over the weekend, jay carney the white house press secretary put out a statement saying that the president believes the government should be staffed with quote the very highest public servants with the highest integry and based on media reports the president is concerned about the conduct of a small number of irs employees may have fallen short.
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that's a preview of get ready. >> i'm not sure confidence in government is actually news, but there has to be a way that make sure particularly at the irs that you are not targeting people who don't deserve to be targeting. it's outrageous. >> senior without correspondent jessica yelin is here. jessica, president obama has got to be prefared for a comment about the irs scandal and of course about benghazi and the question of how much forthcoming the white house was after the attack. jessica. >> reporter: absolutely, jake. usually at tease events the president takes two questions on his side and is visiting dignitary takes two questions on his or her side. today it's only one question each. so a little unusual, it would seem that, while we can't know for sure, but it does seem that there is more of a limit on how many topics we're allowed to cover here today or we're going to fet the opportunity to cover. but i wouldn't be surprised if the president gets a question in
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many parts, maybe. we're hoping it touches on the irs, on benghazi, perhaps on syria and whether the president is changing exactly what his standard for action there is or clarifying where his boundarys are. look, the challenge for the president here and questions for the white house are on a host of issues right now. they seem to be in a defensive posture answering questions rather than driving the agenda, many americans have questions right now. if they have been confused about benghazi, if they have been confused about syria, places far away, a lot of confusion, areas where we expect violence, we expect unrest. well the irs is a different kind of issue, jake. it's an issue that most americans understand. it hits close to home and when we hear that there are targets be i the irs that's something that a lot of people feel intuitively they get and the president needs to address that head-on today and explain what
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the administration is doing. the irs is an independent body, but the president needs to explain how concerned he is or how they intend to respond once this i.t. report comes out, jake. >> i want to go to capitol hill to our capitol hill corner. dan na baschuck. dana. >> reporter: proof that it is a bipartisan outrage when it comes to the democratic senate finance committee, they have jurisdiction over the irs and treasury, in general, just released a statement saying he is going to wait for the full odd it to come out of the irs later this week, but regardless, he said the irs should prepare for a full investigation of this matter. a full investigation of this matter. so, there you have, again, not just republicans who run the house, but now democrats who run the senate, being very specific that they, too, are going to look into it, that i can expect them not to be gathering
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documents and data, to hold public hearings, to find out what happened, was this a shortcut the irs is saying, a way to make it easier to get away from these groups? or is it political? those are the questions we will continue to see answered again in a bipartisan way. >> we are waiting for president obama and british prime minister david cameron to take some questions from reporters. we will take a quick break. when we come back, we will have those comments from the president. . we got a subaru. it's where she said her first word. (little girl) no! saw her first day of school. (little girl) bye bye! made a best friend forever. the back seat of my subaru is where she grew up. what? (announcer) designed for your most precious cargo. (girl) what? (announcer) the all-new subaru forester. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. and do you know your... blooa or b positive??
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we are waiting for president obama and british prime minister david cameron to come to the east room of the white house and talk to reporters. they are expected to come out in just a few minutes. they have been meeting at the white house on the agenda the increasing violence in syria and the global economy. there is a g-8 meeting in ireland coming up. reporters are anxious to ask about two big controversies playing here at home, the attacks in benghazi and how the white house responded and reports that the ira targeted tea party and other conservative groups. i am joined here by chief an nis gloria borger and jessica yellin at the white house and chief
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correspondent dana baschuck is on capitol hill. gloria, one of the things that's interesting about the benghazi back and forth is specifically this back and forth this debate between the cia and the state department t. state department, their explanation for why that part of the talking points was edited out, saying that the cia had warned the state department about attacks in benghazi if 2012. >> right. >> they said they didn't want that end will is there they thought they were getting run over. okay. this kind of lifts the veil on what goes on in government as in private business, as an example. the state department said, wait a minute. these say that we were warned and didn't do anything about it. hold on. and i believe that what you saw when you saw the victoria newlan from the state department saying this didn't sit well with her leadership. that meant that, you know what,
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you are not going to put us out there as the scapeget to there. what you end up with after these reiterations are talking points that turned into mush or were absolutely untrue at the very end. >> one of the points that jessica has made clear to us internally and her reports, jessica, is the fact that meme say, where did it come from, the idea that this was the fault of this video, this anti-muslim stlad benghazi it turns out had nothing to do with. jessica, you made out the point afc in the cia drafting points, all 12 iterations, they were putting that out there. jessica. >> reporter: that's right, jake, the argument you will hear come from both this building and it is reflected in those talking points is that was the guidance they were getting from the intelligence community. so the initial assessment that this was sparked by the video,
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spontaneous demonstration as opposed to an organized terrorist attack is based on information -- officials say they were getting from their intelligence officials. you know, for members of the administration, that's an important distinction and an important point to make because they say that's what they were initially being hammered about, that they were trying to make the to make the point that this was people on the ground taking advantage of a weak it is at that moment and charging the consulate at that point and that's how folks from david pepe trace' -- petraeus' cia were assessing it. they couldn't know that at the time in real time because they were just basing their views on what their best intelligence told them at the time. we know from history, our best
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intelligence isn't always the greatest tempt, jake. >> of course, there was a question about whether this was a spontaneous demonstration that went bad or this was a planned terrorist attack. it was not there were divisions among different departments and agencies. the cia, itself, was divided. >> reporter: we don't know how much of that got circulated. if that was kept -- one of the realitys of this benghazi story is the messy inter-agency process in congress and how much they blame each other for blame/credit and how much goes on inside an agency where different factions fight within the building a and don't convey that outside. so much of that got out of the cia to other officials is something that has to be determined. >> all right. if you are with us right now, you are waiting for president obama and british british prime minister david cameron to come out. we will bring it to you livement we will take a quick break. we expect that to happen any minute.
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welcome back. if you are joining us, president obama and british prime minister david cameron are expected to take questions in the white house. we are on pins and needles. we are having a conversation with gloria borger and jessica yellin talking about the questions on the mind of the person reporters in the room, at least, about the irs and their treatment of conservative and tea party groups and the white house response to attacks in benghazi. gloria, let's talk about this irs scandal. >> right. >> obviously, nobody supports going after groups based on their political ideology, but the position here on one level, i don't want to use the word abuse, that would be editorial, the idea of whether or not these groups have a special place in the tax code because they're
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supposed to promote general social welfare, whether or not too many political groups with agendas are taking advantage of that, not just conservative groups, but literal groups everywhere. >> i think that's a legitimate question, a side issue. the question is, do these groups on both sides of the aisle, do they deserve this kind of special tax status? and i think that's something that congress will investigate, should investigate, has been pushed to investigate at certain points and will and maybe this will now inspire them to do so. that, however, is separate from whether the question of whether these people at the irs were violating the law and were targeting groups, which we don't do and harassing groups which we do not 20 because of their political affiliation in some vague way, ie, you know, googling tea party or conservative or, you know,
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whatever the words were. the problem for the irs here and, quite frankly the problem for the administration that the irs has no friends on either side of the aisle. who is going to stand up there and defend the irs? >> in fact, speaking of having friends, dana baschuck, chief correspondent on capitol hill. >> reporter: that's right, jake. >> not that you don't have friends, you are certainly somewhere, if the irs had a friend with 535 members of congress, hopefully, one of them would be standing up to the irs. i suspect your inbox has not been enundated with the irs did the right thing e-mails, in fact, quite the opposite. we are now starting to hear democrats, too, criticizing the irs for its actions targeting conservative and tea party groups. >> that's exactly right. what we have seen with benghazi is mostly a republican investigation by a republican-led house. this just, gloria's point about
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the fact that the irs is not the most popular organization anywhere, but especially here with members of congress kind of falling all over themselves to show their constituents that they're listening. the democrats who run the senate are already saying they will investigate. one thing as we were talking, i was reminded by a republican source that part of what we are going to see. i know this is not going to shock you. this is going to quickly end up with some partisan ship here, what we are going to see is republicans reminding us that democrats back in 2010, we know based on the timeline, they were beginning to look at tease groups by targeting them internally at the irs, back about that same time, chairman balk cuss -- baucus, the chairman of the finance committee called on the irs to be more aggressive to make sure these tea party groups were doing what they say they were doing, mean, working not is much for the benefit of politics, do
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you more nonprofit work, which is what they were signing up for. that, of course, goes to the whole heart of this so there are some questions, in fact, republicans have said to me, this is exactly what the democrats want the irs to be doing. they say, no, we want to make sure, not target them based on political groups. this is something, if you do back to 2010 and the explosion of tea party groups, democrats were worried that there was group after group after group popping up. they were asking for tax exempt status and were involved politically. those historical facts are being put out by repbulican, even as democrats say we await this, too. >> if you are tuning in, we are awaiting president obama and prime minister cameron to take questions from reporters. we will take a quebec brake, when we come back, we expect the president to take questions in the east room from reporters.
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welcome back to cnn. we are expecting president obama and british prime minister david cameron to come out to take reporters' questions. we expect one question from an american and one from the british, these are being doled out. we expect many reporters will be asking multi-parted questions. gloria borger is here, multi-parted is the word i used there. multi-part questions, i should say. we are expecting questions even though president obama and david cameron are talking about syria and the world crisis, the pending meeting of the superg-8 in northern ireland coming up. we expect they will be focused on the irs scandal and benghazi with the reporters. >> the white house probably wants to talk about the irs scandal.
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while jay carney said something personally, has not expressed his out rage t. person in charge, don't forget, of the irs at the time that this occurred was a george bush appointee and the president, you know, is not going to get any flack for criticizing the irs in terms of this. so benghazi in many ways is something that he's probably more reluctant to talk about, but the irs is something he'll probably want to jump on. i presume cameron will be asked about syria and whether he believes we've crossed the red lean. >> we are told we a a machine, a minute, 45 away from president obama and david cameron coming out to take questions from reporters. jessica yellin, if you are still there to talk to us. talk briefly about the relationship with president obama and david cameron, certainly not as reagan-thatcher, but they have enjoyed a decent partnership. >> reporter: they have. they are both young men, young
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leaders. the two have worked together on a number of issues the plans for draw down in afghanistan, as you well know, jake, also figuring out how to engage on syria, not necessarily to either man's satisfaction, but they are frequently in contact and they're both sort of, they have similar personalitys. they like to, they're intellectuals who like to sort of be cool and make jokes and sort of act like normal, young, kind of young leader, if that makes sense. i am told that in this meeting, they did caulk u talk abo-- tal syria and u.s., getting get to get representatives from assad's government and representatives together for some kind of discussions. that is something that is important to the cameron. cameron does care enormously and has the better relationship with putin. so could try to negotiate that
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as well. and he is also posting, i should point out, the upcoming -- hosting the upcoming g-8 summit in ireland in a month. the president will be visiting cameron, so that was up for discussion as well, jake. >> thank you, jessica, gloria, in the few remaining seconds we have, the debate about austerity vs. other ways of trying to help the economy and david cameron's government in the u.k. has been criticized for cutting too much, or cutting too much spending and, thursday hurting the global recovery. >> and that mirrors the debate here and also republicans understand and have come to understand that a platform of austerity is not enough to get them into the presidency, but it's, clearly, a huge part of what they stand for and we're heading into a summer now of debates about just how austere we ought to be and raising the debt ceiling.
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>> and here they come, president obama and british prime minister david camm rop. let's take a listen. then they'll take questions from reporters. >> to all our moms out there, i hope you had a wonderful mother's day. it's always a pleasure to welcome my friend and partner, prime minister david cameron. michelle and i have wonderful memories when david and a man that visited us last year. there was a lot of attention how i took david to march madness. we went to ohio and a year later, we had to confess david still does not understand basketball. i still the not understand cricket. as we've said before the great alliance between the united states and the united kingdom is rooted in shared interests and shared values and it's indispensable to global security and prosperity. but as we have seen again recently, it's a partnership of the heart. here in the united states, we joined our british friends in mourning the passing of british
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margaret thatcher, a great champion of the liberty and alliance that we carry on today and after the bombings in boston, we americans were grateful of the support from friends from around the world, particularly those across the atlantic. at the london marathon, runners paused in a moment of silence and dedicated the race to boston. david will be visiting boston to pay tribute to the victims and first responders. so david, i want to thank you and the british people for reminding us if good times and in bad, our two people stand as one. david is here first and foremost as he prepares for the host the g-8 next month. i appreciate him updating me on the agenda as it takes shape. and we discussed how the summit will be another opportunity to sustain the global economic recovery with a focus on growth and creating jobs for our people. michelle and i are looking forward to visiting northern ireland and i know the summit is going to be a great success
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under david's fine leadership. we discussed the importance of moving ahead with the eu towards negotiations on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership. our extensive trade with the u.k. is central to our broader trans-atlantic economic relationship which supports more than 13 million jobs. i want to thank david for his strong support for building on those ties. i look forward to launching with the eu in the coming months. i believe we have a good opportunity to cut tarriffs, open markets, create jobs and make all of our economys even more competitive. with regard to global security, we reviewed progress in afghanistan where our troops continue to serve with extraordinary courage, alongside each other and i want to commend david for his efforts to encourage greater dialogue between afghanistan and pakistan, which is critical to regional security. as planned, afghan forces will take the lead across the country
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soon this spring. u.s., british and coalition forces will move into a support role. our troops will continue to come home t. war will end by the end of next year, even as we work with our afghan partners to make sure it is never again a haven for our terrorists who attack our nations. gip our commitment to middle east peace, you updated david on the efforts with the palestinians and the importance of moving forward to negotiation and we re-affirmed our support for democrat transitions in the middle east and africa, including the economic reforms that have to go along with political reforms. of course, we discussed, we discussed syria and the appalling violence being inflicted on the syrian people. together, we're going to continue our efforts to increase pressure on the assad regime, to provide human taern aid to the -- humanitarian aid to the long suffering people, to strengthen the modern opposition and to prepare for a democratic
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syria without bashir assad. that includes bringing together representatives of the regime and the opposition if geneva in the coming weeks to agree on a transitional body which would allow a transfer of power from assad to this governing body. meanwhile, we'll continue work to establish the facts around the use of chemical weapons in syria and those facts will help guide our next steps. we discussed iran, where we agreed to keep up the pressure ontarian for on they ron for it's owe on tehran. we will discuss with our partners in order to resolve the world's tern concerns about its nuclear program. finally today, we are re-affirming our commit to global development. we are encouraged by the ambitious reforms on the global fund to fate aids, tb, and malaria. and david has made it clear that
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the g-8 summit will be another opportunity to make progress on nutrition and food security. so david, thank you very much, as always, for your leadership and your partnership, as we prepare for our work in northern ireland as we consider the challenges the we face around the world, it's clear we face a demanding agenda. but if the history of our people show anything, it is that we persevere as one of those london runners said at the marathon, we're going to keep running and keep on doing this. that's the spirit of confidence and resolve that we will don't draw upon as we work together to meet these challenges, david vaumpg thank you very much. >> thank you president barack obama. it's great to be back i in the white house. thank you for all you said about margaret thatcher. it was a pleasure to welcome so many americans to her remarkable funeral in the u.k. i absolutely echo what you said about the appalling outraji in boston. i look forward to going there to
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pay my tribute to the people and their courage. we will always stand with you in the fight against terrorism. thank you for the remarks by the correctet and basketball. i read a book ab it this year, maybe next time we will go to work on that wuvenl it's good to be back for the first time since the american people returned you to office and, as you said, the relationship between britain and the united states is a partnership without paramount, day in, day out, across the world, our diplomats and intelligence agencies work together, our soldiers serve together and our businesses trade with each other. in afghanistan, our armed forces are together defending the stability that will make us all safer and in the global check race, our businesses are doing more than $17 billion of trade across the atlantic every month of every year. and in a changing world, our nation's share a resolve to stand up for democracy, for
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enterprise and for freedom. we've discussed many issues today as the president has said, let me highlight three. the economy the g-8 and syria. our greatest challenge is to secure a sustainable, economic recovery. each of us has to find right solutions at home. for all of us, it means restoring stability, together seizing new opportunities to grow our economys. president obama and i have both championed a free trade deal between the european union and the united states. and there is a real chance notice to get the process launched in time for the g-8. so the next five weeks are crucial. to realize the huge benefits this deal could bring would take ambition and political will. that means everything on the table, even the difficult issues and no exceptions. it's worth the effort for britain alone, an am beshs deal would could be worth up to $10 billion pounds a year, boosting
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industries to financial services. we discussed the g-8 summit in some detail. when we meet on the shores in northern ireland five weeks from today, i want us to agree ambitious action for economic growth. open trade at the open heart of this, but we have a broader agenda to make sure everyone shares in the benefits of this great openness, not just in our advanced economys, but in the developing world, too. i'm unashaid shamedly pro business politician. but as we open up our economys to get business growing, we need to make sure all companies pay their taxes properly an enable businesses and citizens to account. today we have agreed to tackle the scourge of tax evasion. we need to know who owns a company, who profits from it. whether taxes are paid. we need a new mechanism to track where multi-nationals make their money and where they pay their taxes so we can stop those manipulating the system unfairly. finally, we talked about the brutal conflicts in syria.
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80,000 their homes. syria's history is being written in the blood of her people, and it is happening on our watch. the world urgently needs to come together to bring the killing to an end. none of us have any interest in seeing more lives lost, in seeing chemical weapons used or extremists -- welcome president putin's agreement in join effort to join a political solution. the challenges remain formidable, but we have an urgent window of opportunity before the worst fears are realized. there's no more urgent international task than this. we need to get syrians to the table to create a transitional government that can win consent of all syrian people. but there will be no political progress unless the opposition is able to withstand the onslaught and put pressure on. we will also increase our efforts to support and shape the moderate opposition. britain is pushing for more
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flexibility in the eu arms embargo and double nonlethal support to the syrian opposition in the coming year. armored vehicles, body armor and power generators are route to be shipped. we're helping local councils govern the areas and supporting jordan and those dealing with refugees. care for trauma injuries, helping torture victims to recover, getting syrian families drinking clean water, having access to food, to shelter. there is now i believe common ground between the u.s., uk, russia and many others that whatever our differences, we have the same aim, a stable, inclusive syria. there is real political will behind this. we need to get on to do everything we can to make it happen. barack, thank you for your questions today. >> we have a couple questions. we're going to start with julie
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pace. >> thank you, mr. president. i wanted to ask about the irs and benghazi. when did you first learn that the irs was targeting conservative political groups? do you feel that the irs has betrayed the public's trust? and what do you think the repercussions for these actions should be? and on benghazi, newly public e-mails show the white house and state department appear to have been more closely involved with the crafting of the talking points on the attack than first acknowledged. do you think the white house misled the public about its role in shaping the talking points? and do you standby your administration's assertions that the talking points were not purposely changed to down play the prospects of terrorism? and prime minister cameron, on syria, if the eu arms embargo is amended or lapses, is it your intention to send syrian opposition weapons and ene are you encouraging president obama to take the same step? thank you. >> let me take the syrian situation first. i learned about it from the same news reports that i think most people learned about this.
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i think it was on friday. this is pretty straightforward. if in fact irs personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous. and there's no place for it. and they have to be held fully accountable because the irs as an independent agency requires absolute integrity and people have to have confidence that they're applying it in a nonpartisan way, applying the laws in a nonpartisan way. and you should feel that way regardless of party. i don't care whether you're a democrat, independent or a republican. at some point they're going to be republican administrations, at some point there are going to be democratic ones.
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either way you don't want the irs ever being perceived to be biased and anything less than neutral in terms of how they operate. so this is something that i think people are properly concerned about. the i.g. is conducting its investigation. i am not going to comment on their specific findings prematurely, but i can tell you that if you've got the irs operating in anything less than a neutral and nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous. it is contrary to our traditions. and people have to be held accountable and it's got to be fixed. so we'll wait and see what exactly all the details and the facts are, but i've got no patience with it. i will notal ra atolerate it an sure we find out exactly what
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happened on this. with respect to benghazi, we've now seen this argument that's been made by some folks primarily up on capitol hill for months now. i've just got to say here's what we know. americans died in benghazi. what we also know is clearly they were not in a position where they were adequately protected. the day after it happened, i acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism. and what i pledged to the american people was that we would find out what happened, we would make sure that it did not happen again. and we would make sure we held accountable those who perpetrated this terrible crime.
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and that's exactly what we've been trying to do. and over the last several months there was a review board headed by two distinguished americans, mike mullen and tom pickering, who investigated every element of this. and what they discovered was some pretty harsh judgments in terms of how we had worked to protect consulates and embassies around the world. they gave us a whole series of recommendations. those recommendations are being implemented as we speak. the whole issue of talking points frankly throughout this process has been a sideshow. what we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were.
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it happened at the same time as we had seen attacks on u.s. embassies in cairo as a consequence of this film. and nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days. and the e-mails that you allude to were provided to us by congressional committees. they reviewed them several months ago, concluded that in fact there was nothing afoul in terms of the process we had used. and suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there's something new to the story. keep in mind by the way these so-called talking points that were prepared for susan rice,
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five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that i was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing. and keep in mind that two to three days after susan rice appeared on the sunday shows using these talking points, which had been the source of all this controversy, i sent up the head of our national counterterrorism center, matt olson, up to capitol hill and specifically said it was an act of terrorism and that extremist elements inside of libya had been involved in it. so if this was some effort on our part to try to downplay what had happened or tamp it down, that would be a pretty odd thing that three days later we end up putting out all the information
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that in fact has now served as the basis for everybody recognizing that this was a terrorist attack and that it may have included elements that were planned by extremists inside of libya. who executes some sort of cover-up or effort to tamp things down for three days? so the whole thing defies logic and the fact this keeps on getting churned out frankly has a lot to do with political motivations. we've had folks who have challenged hillary clinton's integrity, susan rice's integrity, mike mullen and tom pickering's integrity. it's a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks. they've used it for fund raising. and, frankly, you know, if anybody out there wants to actually focus on how we make
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sure something like this does not happen again, i am happy to get their advice and information and council. but the fact of the matter is these four americans, as i said right when it happened, were people i sent into the field. and i've been very clear about taking responsibility for the fact we were not able to prevent their deaths. and we are doing everything we can to make sure we prevent it in part because there are still diplomats around the world who are in very dangerous, difficult situations. and we don't have time to be playing these kinds of political games here in washington. we should be focused on what are we doing to protect them? and that's not easy, by the way. it's going to require resources and tough judgments and tough calls. and there are a whole bunch of diplomats out there who know they're in harm's way. and there are threat streams that come through every so often with respect to our embassies and our